<I don't like it Erika. >

<Don't like what? >

Ping look toward the kitchen door. <I think one of us should be in there with them. >

<Why? >

Ping didn't answer for several minutes; they had nearly finished washing all the dishes. <They might do something. >

<So what if they do? >

Ping sighed deeply causing Erika to smile, Ping was learning so fast.

<Erika, what if he… he picks…picks her? >

Erika shook her head, and <Then at some time very soon she'll just push him away again. >

Ping looked at Erika and scowled as she put away the last of the dishes, <She'll hurt him Erika, and I don't want him to be hurt! >

<Ping, he can deal with the pain. He can be comforted. But interfering like you wish to do will result in him being hurt worse. He'll be afraid to come back if you do that. >

Ping dried her hands, <I'm not sure I understand. >

Erika turned to Ping, <Piro is very shy, and he opens up once he gets to know you. He needs help from the girl so he can be sure of what he is doing > She smiled; <Didn't you have to help him? Wasn't that how you got him to take you to Anna Millers? >

Ping returned the smile, <It sure was! > She glanced back at the door though she couldn't see Kimiko or Piro; <I just don't want to see him hurt again Erika. You saw how he was, just moping around. > Ping looked down with sadness on her face, <I was created to care and be cared for Erika, and it's part of my core to have to accept that my user may have a flesh and blood woman come into his life. To accept her and be her friend and helper as well as his. > She looked up again, <You are kind and gentle to him, I can see that he can make you happy and you can make him happy in ways that I might not be able to. > She paused briefly and looked hard into Erika' s eyes as if searching for something, < And you accept me. >

Erika blinked and looked at Ping, < You know, I feel a lot better about you sleeping with him now. >

Erika was somber as she and Ping returned to the front room. She wished that Kimiko wasn't the way she was. Erika wondered how much like Ping she was, if it wasn't just her feeling for Piro but the knowledge that Kimiko would hurt him that drove her to betray her friend.

Piro and Kimiko were sitting on opposite ends of the sofa staring at the television. Kimiko looked up and smiled at Erika when they back in. Erika sat between her and Piro and Ping sat on the floor in front of him to lean back against his knees. Piro absent-mindedly began playing with Ping's hair. No one spoke another word until bedtime.

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